The federal government and state governments across the country should be doing everything they can to ensure election integrity going forward. Over the past few years, the Arizona legislature has taken this to heart. But the Left has been fighting against every legitimate election reform that comes from conservatives. Not only are they filing lawsuits in court, but they’ve been deploying a new tactic that threatens the First Amendment.
Lawsuits Against Election Integrity Bills
In 2021, the Arizona legislature passed, and then-Governor Ducey signed into law SB 1485—a law designed to clean up Arizona’s early voter list. Then in 2022, state lawmakers followed that up with HB 2243 (to ensure regular voter list maintenance) and HB 2492 (to ensure that only U.S. citizens are voting in our elections).
These are commonsense laws that everyone should be able to get behind, but the Left gave up commonsense years ago…
The people of Arizona deserve elections that are both accessible and secure—where it is easy to vote and hard to cheat. It is the duty of the legislature to pass bills that ensure this, the Governor to sign those bills into law, and the Attorney General to enforce those laws.
But the Secretary of State’s role is different. This elected official is supposed to provide an Elections Procedures Manual (EPM) that provides impartial direction to county recorders to ensure uniform and correct implementation of election law. But just like his predecessor in this role before him (now-Governor Katie Hobbs), our current Secretary of State Adrian Fontes has filled his EPM with unlawful provisions…
The Left says it isn’t happening. And they’re quick to run to their allies in traditional corporate media to further the lie that voter fraud is a made-up problem. But then maybe they would like to explain the guilty plea from last week.
On Thursday, Guillermina Fuentes of San Luis pleaded guilty to one count of Ballot Abuse for her role in a ballot harvesting scheme from the August 2020 Primary Election. And she wasn’t the first one to do so. Back in March, Alma Juarez, also of San Luis, entered the same plea. Both women admitted that they knowingly collected ballots from another person, and those early ballots belonged to individuals for whom they were not a family member, household member, or caregiver.
Arizona’s Permanent Early Voter List (PEVL) is no longer permanent, after Gov. Doug Ducey signed one of Arizona’s most important pieces of election integrity legislation in years on Tuesday.
The Arizona Senate approved SB1485 earlier in the day to ensure Arizona voters receive a mail-in ballot only if they signed-up to and now wish to continue automatically receiving a ballot before each election. It provides for a voter’s removal from the newly named Early Voting List (EVL) if a voter did not cast a ballot in at least one of four consecutive elections and did not respond to messages from their county recorder to remain on the list.
“This bill is a modest, but critical step toward restoring confidence in our election system,” sponsor Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita stated in a press release.
Proponents of SB1485 touted its cost-savings impact for counties from only printing and paying postage for early ballots a voter expects to use. But the main impact, they said, would be ensuring that tens of thousands of early ballots are not mailed out to voters who no longer utilize the option.
Opponents of the bill deflected from the election integrity benefit and tried to characterize the bill as targeting minority populations to make it harder to vote.
However, being dropped from what is now EVL has no impact on a voter’s right to vote and all voters remain registered to vote. That was a message the governor focused on in his comments while signing SB1485 a short time after its passage in the Senate on a 16 to 14 vote.
“Let’s be clear — despite all the deceptive and heated rhetoric being used by some partisan activists to lobby against this reform, not a single Arizona voter will lose their right to vote as a result of this new law,” Ducey stated in a video his office released to announce that SB1485 had been signed.
Ugenti-Rita’s bill was amended several weeks ago to win the support of more Republican lawmakers in the House. The amendment softened the bill, according to experts, so that a voter would have to miss all elections within a two-year period -including any city or other minor elections- to be dropped from the EVL.
Ducey used the bill’s signing to push back on national companies inserting themselves into Arizona’s election laws.
“These big businesses have seemed to embrace a static view of elections,” he said. “Freeze the systems the way they are and view any change suspiciously. It’s wrong. Dead wrong.”
As the State Senate’s audit of Maricopa County’s 2020 General Election results and procedures continues, the majority of House Republicans signed a letter last week proclaiming their support of Senate President Karen Fann’s efforts.
“Each of us remains steadfast and focused on working to safeguard against potential ballot tampering, voter fraud and other voting irregularities,” the April 29 letter states. “We firmly believe our elections must be lawfully conducted under the Constitution, as well as with federal and state election law.”
The signees include Reps. Brenda Barton, Leo Biasucci, Walt Blackman, Shawna Bolick, Judy Burges, Frank Carroll, Joseph Chaplik, David Cook, Timothy Dunn, John Filmore, Mark Finchem, Travis Grantham, Jake Hoffman, Steve Kaiser, John Kavanagh, Quang Nguyen, Joanne Osborne, Jacqueline Parker, Beverly Pingerelli, Jeff Weninger, and Justin Wilmeth.
According to the letter, the representatives are “fully committed to sorting through the verified evidence” once the Senate Audit is done and the auditors’ reports are available. Then they will work “to remedy verified irregularities” with the intent to increase voter trust.
In the meantime, the signers told Fann it “is paramount” to pass other pending election integrity legislation such as SB1485, which would require all 15 counties to remove voters from the early ballot mailing list if those voters fail to utilize early voting for two full election cycles. About 207,000 voters could drop off the early ballot list, a process which does not impact a voter’s registration status.
Cleaning up the list will save counties money on printing and postage, according to SB1485 supporters, while also reducing opportunities for election misconduct by ensuring early ballots are only being sent to voters who intend to use them.
SB1485 has already cleared the House but is held up in the Senate due to a revolt in the Republican caucus by Sen. Kelly Townsend, who alleges bill sponsor Sen. Michelle Ugenti-Rita was responsible for “killing” more than a dozen of Townsend’s election-related bills.
The representatives’ April 29 letter was issued the same day the House voted 31 to 29 along party lines to approve SB1003, another bill sponsored by Ugenti-Rita, which will ensure counties follow the same process -and same deadline of 7 p.m. on election day- for curing early ballots received without the statutorily required signature on the voter affidavit.
Most counties reported a very small number of unsigned early ballot affidavits in the 2020 General Election, but the bill is one of several that Republicans say are necessary to promote consistency and voter confidence in election procedures used statewide.